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Monday, September 14, 2015

Why Manananggal is the Best Shake, Rattle and Role Segment Ever

Back in 1984, Regal Films released the first of the Shake, Rattle & Roll anthology series. The segment Manananggal not only became the most popular segment in the franchise, but also catapulted Peque Gallaga & Lore Reyes to the forefront of horror – establishing their ability to find human moments and sensuality in the grotesque. They approached the segment with an artistic logic that brought the absurd into the realms of possibility.

“They cut in half which I imagine, artistically, must be really really painful. How big do the wings need to be to carry the body of a woman?” ~ Peque Gallaga

In Manananggal, Douglas (played by Herbert Bautista) is a teenager in a faraway province where a manananggal has been eating villagers. His grandmother tasks him to kill this creature by locating the lower half and preventing it from re-attaching. He must now survive the night to protect his family and stop the vicious attacks. Here is the famous scene from the film.

“They cut in half and I thought, I’d like to see the lower half. I think I’m the first in the Philippines to show the lower half with the intestines bubbling.” ~ Peque Gallaga

To me, this is still the best interpretation of the manananggal ever seen on film. Sure some of the effects are rough, but it was cutting edge for the budget and time it was released. The music and soundscape have an eerie primal voice underscoring it – SUPER c-r-e-e-p-y! Peque & Lore’s artistic sensibility and their ability to connect on a human level has never quite been matched in the SRR franchise. Plus, Irma Alegre’s performance was enough to have little boys running through banana fields searching for “the lower half” – I won’t go into more detail, but if I’m ever attacked by a manananggal, please let it be Irma Alegre.
 
 
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jordan Clark is a Canadian documentary director/producer at High Banks Entertainment Ltd. He made the 2011 feature length documentary The Aswang Phenomenon - an exploration of the aswang myth and its effects on Philippine society. Currently he is in production for The Aswang Project web-series, which will feature 8 mysteries and myths from the Philippines.

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